Africa is rising. In Mtindo: Style Movers Rebranding Africa, award-winning photographer Daniele Tamagni captures the new generation of young minds who are defining the creative landscape of the continent — the so-called “style movers”. The word Mtindo has a dual meaning in Swahili, signifying both “style” and “movement”. With this photographic project, Tamagni gives expression to the style movement known as “Rebranding Africa”, introducing the world to the musicians, artists, filmmakers, and other creators who are making his native Kenya—and the entire continent—a powerhouse in the arts and fashion. We got in touch with Daniele to find out more about his work.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest book focusing on the “style movers” in Africa?
Mtindo was an idea of Waridi Schrobsdorff author of the book and owner of FA 254 a platform that promotes the development of African fashion industries . It is a showcase of the young generation of creatives in Nairobi who want to “rebrand Africa’s future “
The first part of the book showcases fashion while the second celebrates the “style movers” chosen by Waridi . They may not be the most famous of Kenyan celebrities but they are the emerging talent at the forefront of change. They are not just designers but stylists, musicians, artists, social media entrepreneurs, archicts and fashion bloggers.
And that different perspective is due to the rise of social media , that created a conducive environment for those style movers to thrive in their chosen fields . You will find some familiar faces including Velma Rossa and Oliver Asike of 2manysbiblings fame, the stunning clothes barna anyango Mpinga, rapper Muthoni the Drummer Queen and the satirical contemporary artist Michael Soi.
You have documented style and fashion in the Congo in an earlier book; what is it that attracts you to the continent as a photographer?
Africa is a changing continent and there are many “Africa”. There are positive and negative things of course but I try to show the beauty, the vibrant energy of the people.
It has been said that Africa has sometimes had a problem showcasing its talent, do you think this is true to some extent?
Yes, of course there are many problems because often there is not the possibility for a talent to emerge. But in cities like Lagos, Joburg and Nairobi there is much more possibility for a creative person to emerge and be recognized outside his country now than there was in the past. There are more structures, social media has helped a globalization of ideas so that the gap with Western countries is less than before.
There is an Africa that is not known because there are still lots of stereotypes.
In your Fashion Tribes book project you captured heavy metal rockers in Botswana, hipsters in Johannesburg, dandies in the Congo, female wrestlers in Bolivia, “bling bling” youth in Cuba, punks in Burma, and models in Senegal. What interests you most about street style and fashion subcultures?
I think in my projects I try to show the contemporary life of people in urban cities that are changing. The street is the “theatre of life” Mostly in Africa but also other emerging countries in South East Asia or South America.
To be more precise I try to choose specific subjects in the southern hemisphere of the world where I found similarities. Fashion is a pretext to say something else.
I would say style is the way people want to appear to the society, want to be seen. It’s a work about identities and society.
Velma Rossa. © PHOTO DANIELE TAMAGNI
Your award-winning project about Congolese dandies, “Sapeurs of Brazzaville” influenced a Paul Smith collection. This must have been very cool for you?
Yes, my work also inspired Solange Knowles for her video clip Losing in the Guinness campaign.
I did not discover the sapeurs but obviously through the success of the book it spread all over the world and the fashion, music and advertising industry have been fascinated by this subculture in the last few years beyond any expectations.
A photographer, book publisher and academic Nicolo Degiorgis has travelled extensively and experienced different cultures during his work and study. Now based in Bolzano in South Tyrol, his most recent project has involved exploring the idea of ‘heimat’, a German word with no equivalent meaning in other languages, which denotes the relationship of a human being toward a certain spatial unity, often expressed as homeland.
Fashion has the ability of reflecting who we are on the inside – our character, our interests, our emotions. If we look at the evolution of fashion through time, we can see how the trends portray the overall mood of various eras. The grave, business like attire of the 40s juxtaposes the vibrancy of the 50s which welcomed a new post war era of hope and relief. The quirky, laid back style of the 70s exhibits progression and mobility to a period of wide self-expression.
Brigitte Niedermair photographer
Brigitte Niedermair has been a photographer for over fifteen years, alternating artistic research with fashion shoots. From the beginning, she has created images of exceptional technical and formal perfection; her artistic language is rigorous, accurate in every detail and engages with the subject matter.